The EcoMobility World Festival 2013 Report was released this week giving an insight into the month-long car-free neighborhood project initiated by ICLEI, co-organized by UN-Habitat and hosted by Suwon City, South Korea in September 2013.
Instead of using cars, the 4,300 residents of Haenggung-dong neighborhood made their daily commute, shopping trips and journeys to leisure activities on foot, with pedal power and with light electric vehicles.
Changing mindsets spark new ideas for public space
While shifting people out of cars and onto sustainable transport modes in the long term was the central aim of the Festival, residents have begun to notice additional lasting benefits in their community. “What inspired me was seeing not just how the physical neighborhood was altered, but how the residents’ mindsets changed and they came on board,” commented Kyeong-ah Ko, Community Director for Suwon City. “As well as supporting each other during the month, the residents developed new imaginative ideas for public space and a strong social structure which will benefit their community long after the Festival has ended.”
A lasting impact in a neighborhood without cars
Following the closing of the Festival, a consultation process began to gauge opinions on the future of the ecomobile neighborhood. A citizens’ round table was hosted by Suwon City on 13 November and documented the residents’ responses to the month-long EcoMobility experiment. Around 300 participants outlined speed restrictions, parking controls and one-way systems as the way forward, calling also for the project area to be extended to include the entirety of Haenggung-dong. Moving forward, the Festival demonstrated that moving away from car dependency is feasible, beneficial and can improve quality of life for the citizens of Suwon. The lessons learned will be a central crux of future transport planning in the city, complimenting Mayor Yeom Tae-young’s plans in the pipeline for a Suwon tramway.
An inspirational legacy for cities all over the world
The Festival aimed to catalyze an ecomobile shift in cities all over the world through the temporary transformation of a neighborhood to facilitate green mobility options. With over 1,000,000 visits recorded during the Festival duration, the question now arises: which city will be next to follow in Suwon’s footsteps and take the idea one step further? “The goal is for the ecomobile neighborhood to be used as a prototype for other cities to replicate across the globe”, said ICLEI Global EcoMobility Coordinator, Santhosh Kodukula. ICLEI is now exploring possibilities to repeat the Festival in a different city on a different continent annually and interested cities are invited to get in touch with the EcoMobility team.
“We have the tools to transform your city," added Kodukula, “all we need is your leadership and commitment.”
Get in touch with the EcoMobility team at ecomobility(at)iclei.org